The Changing Landscape of Dawn Raids: Preparing for Hybrid Inspections | Epic

The pandemic has accelerated widespread digitalization in almost every industry. The shift from hard copy to digital documentation is influencing many business and legal processes, including how authorities around the world conduct dawn raids. It is an unannounced inspection by regulatory authorities or criminal investigations into matters such as antitrust law, financial market regulation, data protection and financial crime. They usually take place in the morning and were usually done on site. However, the increase in remote working has changed investigative approaches and there has been a noticeable increase in hybrid raids. Teams can simultaneously raid physical offices and private residences to ensure they are collecting data from remote worker devices, sometimes in multiple countries.

Although dawn raids are infrequent, they occur without warning and can put an organization at significant risk of non-compliance if unprepared. It’s important to know who can conduct searches at dawn and how investigations are changing with the culture of working remotely. This knowledge better positions organizations to proactively create plans that mitigate risk.


The Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has the authority to investigate anticompetitive behavior in both civil and criminal contexts. Dawn raids occur more often in the United States for cases involving alleged violations of criminal antitrust laws, such as collusion. DOJ agents, FBI agents, and local law enforcement may enter premises (offices and local residences) to investigate after obtaining a search warrant.

Hybrid dawn raids are also on the rise in other places around the world. For example, last year the European Commission announced a wave of post-pandemic dawn raids. The Commission has statutory powers to investigate anti-competitive practices affecting trade between EU member states, such as restrictive agreements and abuses of dominant position.

Penalties can include fines and imprisonment for criminal cases. Organizations can also be fined for failing to comply with procedural mandates such as failure to deliver requested documents or withholding evidence.

Considerations and preparation

If organizations handle a dawn raid incorrectly, significant liability can result. The trend of increasing Hybrid Raids can be disheartening, as many lack a solid plan that accounts for Guardians working remotely. To reduce the shock factor and stay compliant, it is crucial to be prepared and leverage partnerships that will limit exposure and promote preparedness.

Here are four ways to improve dawn raid readiness:

  1. Understand risk factors: Knowing the type of data an organization retains will help uncover what information is at risk and the regulatory bodies that would control potential investigations. Certain business activities increase vulnerability to attacks at dawn, such as communications between organizations that could appear to be collusive or the collection of sensitive consumer information invoking data protection legislation. Proactive risk assessment helps identify, notify and train guardians earlier.

  2. Data mapping: Many organizations already use data mapping as an information governance tool. After determining that an organization could be subject to a dawn raid, specific mapping of high-risk data will aid in investigative compliance. Mapping should involve identifying, understanding and charting what information an organization has, how data flows through the organization, who has physical or remote access to the data, and where the information is stored. Mapping can also reveal mishandling of data by remote workers that organizations need to address. Establishing control and accessibility makes it easier to recover and assess privilege during a sudden investigation.

  3. Formation of response teams: The core team should include onsite reception, IT staff, legal counsel, management, human resources, and any outside partners overseeing collection or forensic compliance efforts. Also, consider the primary caretakers who could be the subject of home investigations. Provide appropriate notice and training on what can happen during a search – including an active search of premises, interviews, inquiries about where relevant documents are stored and the seizure of evidence for off-site examination site. With respect to electronic data, investigators may seal premises to prevent interference with data sources, request passwords, copy drives, remove devices, etc.

    Second, anticipate challenges that may arise and confirm what constitutes acceptable behavior. Some actions to avoid during a raid include hostile reception, destruction or concealment of evidence, providing false or misleading information, and obstructing access. Lack of a plan can also lead to leaking privileged information, so make sure the team knows what they can withhold.

  4. Conducting Readiness Assessments and Mock Exercises: Evaluating and testing policies and procedures will identify gaps. Consider partnering with a vendor with experienced experts offering a combination of regulatory knowledge and forensic IT skills to guide assessments. Having an initial workshop can be beneficial to discuss procedures, common challenges, obstacles to overcome, and best practices for preparing for dawn raids. It also provides opportunities to voice anticipated concerns and uncover risk factors.

    A readiness assessment can be an invaluable tool for creating a risk matrix, mapping data, establishing a custom response framework considering hybrid inspections, and determining whether to conduct a mock raid at the location. ‘dawn. All of this will build the foundation of an organization’s dawn raid readiness program. Suppliers can also work in tandem with the team to improve programs and implement best practices before and during a raid. This includes:

    • Understand how to image or copy data to devices
    • Create a memorandum for regulators describing information management, storage and retention policies that is regularly updated
    • Circulate an internal memorandum on dawn raid procedure for onsite and remote employees
    • Copy data captured and imaged by regulators to assess potential exposure
    • Observe and record the entire survey process

These are just a few key elements of a solid dawn raid preparation program. Regular assessments and audits will highlight specific processes that reduce exposure and streamline compliance in the event of a dawn raid, while considering the likelihood of hybrid raids based on remote work policies. ‘organization.

[View source.]

Comments are closed.